Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Couple of notes on the HOLD IT set

Perhaps it's a silly name for a set - but these items hold things. The books hold information, the cabinets hold items, the mugs hold a drink (and a few, if bittersweet, memories). These cabinets will act like WA chests so they can hold your items too in game - nifty huh? Something with a door and a shelf would actually function (if not in animation, then in practice).

The books. The original was based on a cookbook so the standing ones are called Books to Cook. I realized upon their completion that they looked nothing like real cookbooks (well, not your run of the mill cookbooks - I have a few cookbooks that look like this in my collection) but their name remains. The ones that lay down are a little more tongue in cheek in their description and title.

These have two slots - one for the small book and one for the large - as so:
well wouldja look at that!
You can thank Jenba for giving me the idea (albeit, what - a year an a half ago? It was about the time of the refrigerator). Jenba has been a goddess - testing and being a sounding board for many of my creations and ideas. I was contemplating a 'studio' set - something like my office - at the time, and she said something along the lines of 'Oh - you know what would be cool ...' and there you go. The idea was born - I just couldn't seem to get off my lily white to get it done - until now.

What's cool about having an item with slots - you can put the first item onto a different slot and the items stacked on it move with it. It's sort of a cheat for getting the look you want without needing to use OMSP. The slot thinks it's one item - little does it know!

So - here's how you do it - you might already know this trick, but for those who don't:
Takes a very steady hand!
Then - when you are ready to place the book row to the slot (counter, shelf, cabinet - whatever) - 'grab' the first book - the one you started with - and simply drag it to the slot - the whole row of books goes with it. Fancy, eh?
Woosh! Are these things magic? Amaze your friends!
The book that lays on its side also has a slot so you can stack books - or put a fancy cup on top of your stack of books. Hmm - if only you had a fancy mug . . . you know . . . that also stacks.

So - the Jelly Cabinet. I haven't really ever told the story behind the cabinet. Someone owed me $80 and in lieu of giving me cash - they gave me what I coveted: stuff. So I brought home the ugly painted, cat urine stinking, broken glass door cabinet and stripped the paint. It appears to have been painted with a casein  paint - or milk paint - that is almost impossible to remove . . . but who cares? It's stunning as is. Upon seeing it, my mum said that she could picture it painted a particular way, but she agreed that this was the proper finish for it - raw. I took it to someone to repair (the legs seemed to have been kicked out from under it at one point) and he dated it to 1800. Said the legs were from an early icebox probably around 1921. He said that it would be significantly nicer if the legs were removed. I said: no way. I left it with him to repair and (seriously) a year later I still didn't have my cabinet back. Upon arriving at his workshop, I notice that he was using it as his tool chest. [block your ears here if you are easily offended] Mutherfucker! [okay, cursing has stopped] My father said he'd try fixing it and then proceeded to do that same thing (but I wasn't paying him). The cabinet is in its original condition - sans the paint (and stinky cat pee) and I wouldn't change a thing today. I love it. It sits in my dining room.

You might recognize that tan chair and that dress form too . . .
Some of the crazy things I have collected (and kept) - I have a 'thing' for creepy cute.
This is close to the real one. Minor changes to keep a visual balance and to keep the polys down (the hinges are different for instance). Each shelf has 9 slots. The entire piece has 47 slots - including 3 underneath (every time I went to put something under it - the item would jump to a slot on the shelf above) to help with your every need.

best place to keep a radio - three of them in fact
You'll notice that the back has minor gaps and that is intentional. I wanted this to be as close to the original as I could - so gaps were included between the boards.
In workshop
In game
Hope you enjoy this set as much as I enjoyed pulling it together. I am in the middle of another project at the moment. Some feedback on one item already has me scratching my head, but no worries . . . no no, you don't worry your pretty little face. Let me get grey for you.


Sunday, June 02, 2013

A cup a cupp a cuppa cup a cup.

While I might not be singing 'The Java Jive' I was doing a little jive revisiting the metlox mug I released in 2010. While there was nothing 'wrong' with it - it always bothered me that I needed to release a stacked version of it when it should just stack on its own.

fig 1/1a & fig 2 - 2010 vs 2013
When doing a kitchen anything, I am always forced to remember the items that came before it. I like this item well enough, but it was never properly smoothed. You wouldn't know it - it looked good in game - but it always sort of bothered me that it's something I use in my own game a lot and it wasn't at it's best.

Revisiting an item one finds some curious things. This thing was over 800 polys (pushing 900). Good christ I say.

The new version is 400ish poly count. It has been slightly altered to look even more like the real thing as well - the poly trim is from the interior (the interior had as many polys as the exterior). That's just crazy . . . man. Then of course, smoothing and welding helps with the look and the seams. This also has a slot so it stacks properly. Sometimes you want random stacks at varying heights. Okay - let me rephrase that . . . sometimes I want varying stacks . . . . It was something that I would have originally tackled had I known how to do it, but I think at the time it was not really possible.

Where this is a 2.0 I didn't want to just 'redo' it and walk away. The original had 12 of the original pottery colors. In real life the white was in both gloss and satin. The original is still fine - you don't even really need to remove it if you don't feel like it (read - I can't be bothered to remove it from my own game [even though I don't even have all of my own items {talk about getting bored over time looking at your own stuff}]). Anyway - the new version has only four (what I will call 'Fantasy') colors that don't exist in real life. Some company should re-issue these things - they are so comfortable in ones hand I can't even tell you.

One more item to look at doing today . . . have a few errands to run, but posting a random image without explaining it just seems . . . . unlike me and my compulsive need to notate. Then photos. Lordy I hate taking photos.

Friday, May 31, 2013

I wave the white flag.

Apparently, texture on glass and I will not come to an agreement. Therefore, I concede. I wave my white flag, constructed with the handkerchief that I used to wipe my furrowed brow and dry my ever so bitter tears while giving it a gesture that only you and I know means 'effffffyooooooouuuuu' in some foreign land (meaning: not 'Ah-mer-KA' as my neighbor would say [while looking out 'him's win-ders' at his 'tah-may-ter' plants.] Bless his hillbilly heart.).


So ... the glass - she is an ornery thing. While I love tinkering with the settings and am often pleased with the results - this was something I simply could no longer beat my head against the wall this thing would sit on in game. May I present the last version (unless some kind soul out there cares to offer their assistance on this matter: glow and texture [hint hint {beggin' here}]) of this wall light:

I heart you, you bastard
 The real one will work, I tell you. (sob) It wiiiillllllllll.

Notice the lovely logo . . .  the beautiful ribbed (and textureless [not bitter]) glass . . . two styles - with and without logo. The end. Don't CASt it too light in color or you'll be "blinded by the light" and revved up like a deuce methinks - whatever the hell that means.

Onto other matters. I finally got a picture of my garden that looks like my garden. You'll all roll your collective eyes - I just know it - but I always go to my garden and take a photo and am wildly disappointed by the shot. It's brown. Brown and sad. While I am doing dishes or yelling "end it" out the window at the dogs who bark at pollen falling I glance over and sigh a big smile at my garden - this is year 3.5/4 of working towards a better garden - aw!

Atlanta has a very early spring and some years it is short. This year has been lovely but there has been a lot of rain so the lavender has been crushed by the rain and the weight of the water trapped in the flowers. I have two smaller plants of English lavender that I am thrilled came back - it struggles here, but it's in bloom currently and the HONEY BEES came this year to enjoy the garden. WOO. Many selections I have opted for were in hopes of helping the honey bee.

This year we will be getting plants that bloom other than in spring so that the garden isn't completely depressing by August. So while this shot still isn't that impressive - so many items did their song and dance in April.

Many of you remember the tree falling and crushing my garden. Last year we extended the garden to a full third of the back yard (after fencing in an area for the dogs). We've also extended it to the area where the tree stood to reclaim that area with life.

Okay. Now I've built up this photo like it's breathtaking. It's simply how I see my garden and it's not sparse and (completely) brown.

Only 3.5/4 years later and it's about halfway 'there' - that silver bit will be covered by mulch (top right)
Okay - off to work with me. I will be tinkering this weekend and am still working on my top secret project. If I wasn't completely grey before, this project might get me there.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The set that should have been (by now)

It's been a bit of a wild ride these past [many] months.

2012 I found myself on a roller coaster of good news followed by equally bad news. Work, life, et cetera. Found jobs, nearly lost jobs due to lack of work. Computer woes . . . car trouble - expensive repairs followed by more troubles. Medical problems . . . dental troubles . . . a dear friend passing away. 2012, in a word, sucked.

This year seemed to start out well - new computer - that lovely interview for SF Magazine. I was even crowned . . . well, dentally speaking of course. I was even amped up to start meshing again. So what happened?

I had this really long post ready for you to read and then I basically felt like no one really cares about that sort of intense and deeply personal introspection. So, I have edited it down to the bits about the set that should have been.

A long time ago, someone requested that I fix the shadow on my flour cabinet. It blinks and I know what the error is - I thought - I need to quickly do that. That was the beginning of some flawed thinking. I can't do anything 'fast' - I opened the file and saw it was a mess - it's not that it would be a problem in game, but I have learned so much since making that item that I felt it needed to be smoothed correctly and mapped better. In attempting to organize the file to smooth I realized it would be easier to start from scratch. The new one is closer in style to the one that sits in my kitchen, but the original mesh has a closer handle and more preset styles to choose from. The new one has more masks for more coloring options. The second one wins by default.

The old style sits center - the new ones in many variations.
This, I thought, would be a great start to some new kitchen pieces.

I have a tall cabinet in my studio that I look at every day and I love it. It used to sit in my kitchen but it's such a small room. The cabinet cost me all of $5 - it's metal. I would have liked to make the handle exactly the same - it has a spring handle sort of like a honey dip (those spiral utensils for honey?) - tha would have pushed the poly count through the roof. My thinking was that the cabinets would be like the World Adventure chests or the Supernatural Cabinet. Sadly - the  SN cabinet base caused routing issues because the original has doors which must be opened by the sim to be used correctly, so WA chests it is. I was on a roll.

A few presets - one with heavy distressing (which looks like my own)
Then things started to dip a bit. I made a washboard wall light. This is something I want to make in real life - it wouldn't be that hard. In fact - I meshed it exactly as I would make it - take the round fluorescent fixture from my kitchen and put it behind the textured glass. The glass being textured would dapple the light which is where the problem started. How to texture glass. I borrowed the texture from the shower glass, but at the moment it's not working very well. Then no matter what I do - the whole fixture glows. I chatted with Heidi about it and I thought we found a solution, but I tried it again in game and it still glows. I have no idea how to make it NOT glow. (If you know - tell me!!) So I started to lose interest a bit in the set because I spent so much time failing at the light. I felt it was probably just better to move along to something new.

This is CASt in a dark color so you can't see the horrible glow. Notice the lack of texture too. UG.
I wanted to make another mug. The mug I did in a very short amount of time - I love it and it looks just like the real one. I even made it stackable. The real mugs belonged to my friend who passed away and while this is a memorial to a dear friend, the manner in which I obtained the mugs left me with a horrible hollow feeling. It was nearly three months after his passing that I saw them in an antique store. It was a moment before I recognized them as his and when I did the math I was left instantly angry as well as grief stricken. I walked away without them at first but called the store to request that they be held for me. It's sadly one of the few things that I have to remember him by.

Five preset colors - can stack . . . finally.
Then I made two books. They started as cookbooks and were made to stack next to each other. Two slots - one for the skinny and one for the wider one (I need to make one that goes on its side as well). They look so cool in game, but they look nothing like a cook book though.

Spines - multiple styles with one CASt capable
The pages . . .
When I stepped back I didn't really know what else to include in a set that would be for the kitchen. I don't want to make counters (though I did find a source image that I would like to attempt at some point) but then I was fixated on the Supernatural cabinet - I wanted to make some sort of sideboard that would work to hold items. I have a number of real life chests that I wouldn't mind making for the game for additional means to hold things. In my inability to make a decision, real life was starting to take a stranglehold on me.

The garden was going to need to be attended to and then my car was making especially loud exhaust noises. What I expected to be a $100 gasket or seal was going to be a $2500 repair and, oh yeah - did I know that the underside of my car was so severely rusted out? Cah-fucking-ching. New car.

So - I have a couple of things that I need to do prior to making this hodge podge release, but I will let these items go soon. My expected March release turn April is going to be a June release. Real life 1, my ass 0.

If you didn't know - I started a Tumblr too. Mostly to show my support for all the amazing creators (whether that is CC, Mods, or simply stunning pictures and stories) in our community by way of the 'like' button . . . yes, a small effort I know - but I want to be able to do it. I had all of a few followers until it was made known that I had a new site and suddenly I have a ton of followers. I am seriously humbled. Check it out if you want. It's nothing you haven't just seen here.

I am also getting my groove back on with some of the fun challenges over at The Sims Daily. They have challenged members to remake some of the classic homes there with a strict budget. I am wildly out of practice - I barely know what is in my now extremely limited CC collection (by comparison to what I used to have). Many members have entered and done some stunning revamps (both inside and out) - these were my three attempts:

Pescadero - the seaside house owned by some grumpy thief of a sim. Outchago! Wendy Darling needed a new home after her many sim years as a hand model:

Moderne for a not so modern lady.
Then there is the home of Agnes Crumplebottom:
Who needs windows?
And this weekend I attempted one of the starter homes called "The Monotone" - I wanted to evoke an Atlanta bungalow feeling.
Rustic garden included! Hope you have your tetanus shot!
Alright bubbies . . . I am off to try my hand at a very secret project. Something I have never attempted before so wish my luck. To keep me fresh I will be finishing off this set shortly. Keep your peepers peeled either here, there, or at Tumblr.

Friday, April 13, 2012

all signs point to yes

We're coming up on the third anniversary for Sims 3. My personal adventures in creation is nearing its second anniversary. Officially in May, but of course, I have been dabbling for a bit longer than that. I had aspirations to do more than just recolors, but I never really thought I would get to the 'next level' of creation.

While my creation skills have improved, I still don't really play the game to its fullest. I read at The Sims Daily about different games using mods to include a working university, functioning stores, the works. It's very impressive. Quite unlike my own game . . . never have I explored making a band or tried to Detective profession. I only recently went to a bar and while it was considered a 'dive' bar, it was entirely too clean and the wolf 'beer' sign was a little on the sad side.

I lived in Boston during college and many years after. It's an old city if you've never been - one that shows it's age and feels it's age in many ways. Perhaps it is landmarks like the Citgo sign in Kenmore Square that help make it feel like it will always have its foot in the past. Whatever it is - it left a profound mark on me and perhaps that explains a lot of the way I style things.

Back in March, someone at  TSD made a WCIF post asking for neon signs for a Times Square sort of feel. I had drawn up some ideas in August 2011 for what I would have loved to create for the game to improve upon my dive bar experience, save adding some passed out sims in the back alley. The problem was, I was thinking about how I wanted to create them and was stuck upon only one approach. I will confess to being rather narrow minded sometimes about a way of making something only to realize much later that I could have saved myself 40 or so steps. Live and learn. The signs, I was convinced, needed to drawn in illustrator - a program that is not the most intuitive to me - I feel like being left handed and drawing right handed with a mouse is laughable. Solution? A Wacom Bamboo tablet of course . . . or so I thought. While it's a very clever and interesting device, tracing my drawing was neither exact nor easily editable in illustrator. So, onto the back burner it went. I should mention that there are a number of ideas that I am still waiting to execute and some go back to October 2010, so this past August is really no big deal.

Hearing the request however, I realized I could simply mesh them and save myself 39 steps of the 40 I usually over take, which of course, lead to more ideas for the set. The two original drawings were of a cat and an elephant. I had wanted something like 'The Pink Pussycat' and the "Pink Elephant" The Pussycat could work for a nightclub and the Elephant a dive bar - I hadn't really sussed out uses - just had the desire for something for downtown type lots and something that spoke to a seedier side of life - a sort of anti-Sunset Valley.

The drawing is possibly more clear that the tusks are a handlebar mustache
and the cat's tail and ears are horns and a halo
I was excited to get started and after a couple of attempts (and subsequent crashes without saving) I rethought the design. Originally I was aiming for an outline and I was not entirely impressed with how it was looking. Try three, the cat was looking pretty good. I had envisioned the cat glowing, but for the sake of realism, it made more sense to make the cat a solid with backlighting - much like a vintage sign.

The elephant was definitely somewhat inspired by the Citgo sign in Kenmore Square, Boston. I wanted (within reasonable polys) neon lights across the background. I also wanted for it to have a real martini glass which again - nods back to vintage signs that were a lot more creative and fun.

The problem was that these were going to be complicated meshes and being limited to three channels for coloring would seem a little on the lame side. I couldn't really make this an overlay trick and while there are ways to add many colors using the multiplier, it would have required many multipliers and no customization to the degree I still wanted a user to have. Taking a sign from the Late Night expansion would limit who could use the sign and I realized too that while you can add a light source to nearly anything, it is still not technically a light that you can fiddle with (and yes, there is a way around that too - but it would still need Late Night to work). Sometimes creating means having a hand tied behind your back . . . or does it?

About the time I was finishing the meshes (and after already testing the Late Night method) I noticed at MTS that there were some new items that had four channels where before they were only three. How were people getting this to work? I noticed that people were thanking a program I had already tried working with - but this was a new version that allowed a fourth channel to be added to any object. TextureTweaker3 by Inge at SimsLogical is this brilliant little program that allows you to (exactly as the name would lead you to believe) tweak the patterns in a package file. Key words - PACKAGE FILE. In other words - plays well with S3PE and S3OC. Workshop would be a challenge. I asked around to the creators that I know if anyone had tinkered with the program and no one had really heard of it, so it was up to me to figure this out.

Have I ever mentioned that I am not a tech-head? Assuming that there was some way for me to use the S3PE plugin with workshop, I inquired (after mustering up all my courage to ask [have I mentioned I am painfully shy?]) how this could work with TSRW. Always helpful, it was explained by Inge how to do it and off I went to try. Worked great - or so I thought. Once in game, the description was gone as well as the title. I make the silly assumption that this was a TT3 error. I tried again and this time it worked - well, it sort of worked. I had to edit the file one more time and now only the title remained - the description disappeared. Something was clearly wrong.

Where this was a new program, and I am familiar with TSRW, I still came to the conclusion that something was wrong with TT3. I could see the description clearly when I looked at the package file in S3PE, but it wouldn't show in game. Inge disagreed and blamed Workshop. Upon reflection, I have to agree. So, I decided to try a few tests to see if I could figure out when the problem happens.

Near as I can tell (and this is not foolproof) it comes down to timing and how 'fresh' the program is feeling. If you open and clone a new object in Workshop, change the description and title initially, export to TT3, delete the contents of the file in workshop, import the file back post tweak, save and close the file only to reopen it and make all of your edits - the chances are greater (read, not great, just greater) that you'll end up getting the description and title to save to the file. If you change just the title or description first (not both) whichever you've changed has a great chance of remaining, but the other will probably not show up. If you make all of the changes including importing your mesh, changing textures and settings and then tweaking the file, there is a 50% chance (that's a guess mind you) that your file will be borked. In fact - you may not even have the mesh still attached to the file correctly. Near as I can tell, Workshop (at least for me - though so many people talk about opening a file, making corrections and exporting it as a new file and having it supposedly work) simply does not like copies of copies. To export the file you are sending out a clone (a copy). You then import this copy back into workshop and it can either love it or hate it - Workshop is borderline personality. Then to make all sorts of changes like adding groups and changing light settings - if it doesn't crash between getting it back into workshop, saving, closing, opening and editing and then exporting (a new copy of an already copied file) - then there is only a chance that it will work correctly.

Now - as if it is not hard enough to judge scale and height, guess light and neon intensity, gauge pattern scale, to then add new groups, adjust all those settings and THEN export the damned thing - to have all that work be undone by a stupid glitch that cannot be fixed (even when it is clearly visible when looking at the file in S3PE) or even to find its source to correct it - all for the sake of a sim3pack that no one will let die gracefully and continue to cling to with a death-rattle grip? Aside from the obvious need for a sim3pack from EA official items (which can also be bypassed and made a package file) and countertops (that I have in my own game in great moderation due to my hatred for the sim3pack) - there is simply no need for a sim3pack for this game. NONE. (Don't even begin to tell me about CAP patterns)

Did I mention too that half the time, something about the footprint borks and the signs won't snap to a wall? That's an entirely different problem and one that I simply don't understand being a non-tech-head.I am assuming it has to do with the bounding box so as along as I either don't update the footprint or use a preprogrammed size like 1x3 or 1x1 it appears to clear up the problem.

So now I am left with a few options. Make these items Late Night compatible as I originally thought I would need to, lessen the number of channels to three and screw it all, or continue to try to export these files over and over again until one works correctly. Being a masochist, I have been attempting option three. I like having things be base game compatible and I like having all the channels open on these signs. However, I am at a point that I simply want to give up on this foolish set.

The amount of times that one has to load these things in game to see if anything needs to be adjusted (and about 99% of the time, something does) is just tiresome - to have all these additional problem that apparently cannot be solved all for the sake of a sim3pack seems, well, cray-cray. Never have I claimed to be not crazy, so blindly I will probably continue to try.

So the set started with the cat and elephant. I wanted to do a large magnifying glass and a fortune teller sign - I knew I wanted some sort of boutique sign that could be simple/clean - I also wanted some sort of marquee overhang and I really wanted some sort of tall three story type sign, but it was suggested to me a few signs that I had not considered - tattoo parlor, a salon, possibly something for the paranormal career (which I am calling the fortune teller sign - I hated the paranormal career and did not want to make a ghost buster-esque sign). A few pictures have been posted to twitter already, but here are just a few sneak peeks:

Based on the coffee shop down the street from my home in EAV
A salon sign - this will also include a non-neon version
The magnifying glass, the tattoo sign, the Holy Hellcat sign
From the other angle
The overhead marquee with extension side panels (one tile) to be as small or large as you want
The not as tall as I originally thought building marquee sign
While there are a few more, I don't want to give away all the set just yet. More problems - you can clearly see that the lighting is limited to the first floor. A major upset - I attempted to program in a light source well above the signs and sadly - it just made the first floor brighter. This is a problem with EA lights too so I am not too concerned about that. There are the buydebug lights that allow for wall lighting and room lighting and become invisible in 'live' mode. While it would be nice to have a shift-capable orb light that could be placed at any height - no one has made one and I doubt EA gives a rats ass about that.

Here you can see the buydebug wall light on the left, on the right no light on the top,
but the light is being used at the bottom.
Getting the settings on the buydebug lights to be equal to the light settings is nearly impossible. While it is often close - that horrible line is still visible on some level. Part of the problem is that when programming a light it gets dimmer towards the 'floor' so even if you could set them exactly the same - the level of light is not the same at all heights on the floor you're lighting.

One more request at TSD was for Lunar Lakes which I have not actually opened to look at. I have only observed pictures of it - I will need to take photos in LL when I release the portal marker that was requested. I need to reclone it and add some additional markers for the equestrian center, subways, the movie lot, and the sky diving center.

the 'neon' can be made to be any color - one blank just in case
This portal marker hopefully helps those who don't appreciate the 20(?) unmarked portals that came with Lunar Lakes. I thought this was 'space age' enough that it would work nicely within that world. This will probably be recompiled and released on its own. While I wanted to release it at both MTS and TSR given that my little corner of the web is not especially popular with the entire sims community - I didn't want to take the chance that it would not be accepted at one over the other and appear to have chosen 'sides' in the community war of us vs. them. It's bad enough that there is even 'sides' to begin with but to appear to be on one of them was simply an unbearable thought. I need to thank Megativity from TSD/LS/BPS for locating the community lot icons. I was clueless and even though Inge tried to tell me where they were located, upon opening the UI.package, I couldn't find them? She tried. I am hopeless. I will continue to make pretty things and leave the programming to the pros.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The evolution of a design

You probably are already aware that I have been looking for a new job. After a while of searching for another frame job (and dreading it) I came to the conclusion that I need to simply step away from that field. Not only have a significant amount of shops closed their doors during this extended economic decline, I am competing for  greatly lowered waged jobs against all the displaced framers. While one would hope that talent really gets you the work, it's honestly is a personality contest and most of us see ourselves a little different than we actually project. While I consider myself 'precise' and 'detailed' these traits can be read on my face as 'aloof' and 'distant' - 'detailed' can further be broken down to 'OCD' and 'byzantine' depending on who's doing the reading. I think we're all a little layered - what is on our surface isn't exactly what lies within, but you have a short amount of time to expose yourself to a prospective employer and sweet and jovial usually get the job. For the record, 'sweet' translates to me as 'uneducated' or 'inexperienced' and 'jovial' translates to 'slacker' - see - we all judge each other. Kudos.

I had a great interview yesterday with a company I am very hopeful to join in some capacity, but I allowed the people around me to help me with some decisions. This is a job I really, really wanted and wanted to do it right. Every decision I made was questioned and I will stop here to say - I listened because I haven't actually had anyone call me back in such a long time it is staggering - I needed feedback. I ended up bringing very little from my portfolio because so much of the actual graphic work I have done gets laser copied (or worse - photocopied) onto maybe nice paper and that's that. All my hard work that I was badgered to do gets cheaply produced and often I don't even get a hard copy - my one stipulation for my often greatly discounted rates. The other items that did not come with me were from a number of years ago and I regret not bringing them. While this position is for mostly web work, I think seeing a wide range of style would have been a good thing.

One of the items I did bring a printout of one card that was done and I was very proud of (I think knowing that this was such a massive struggle to get the client to see it was a good design and 'won' that argument finally in the end). This was with a long standing client and his new venture (which, sadly, as quickly as his idea seemed to swell in interest, it deflated as quickly). I explained the evolution of the designs, but none of this was presented - I actually didn't have print copies of all the changes from beginning to end. Kind of stupid on my part, but it wouldn't even occur to me to post declined concepts - they are the things that people simply don't ever get to see so in my head that was one hell of a big job, but the results come down to one post card. In fact - the amount of work that went into this particular job went almost completely unrewarded because 'it was just a postcard' that ended up being printed. There was a banner (that was cheaply printed by Kinkos [still waiting on that photograph]) but all the variations that were tested and declined - all solid work - has never been seen.

Designing a logo is in my opinion one of the hardest things to do for someone (think of Coke and then think about when they changed their logo and people were utterly pissed - this might live with you for the rest of your businesses life, so a logo has to be solid), it has to start somewhere. Taking the name and typing it out in different typefaces is usually what I end up doing. I am trying to see what catches my eye and where patterns start to form. The company name was Coco Creamery. All natural coconut frozen dessert. For those of you who are also lactose intolerant, this stuff was so much like ice cream you'd cry (and I did) trying it for the first time. So even the name had a good sound to it and the Coco in my head being a set of redundant letters formed a pattern immediately.

The very first designs for the company - I even thought I would include a 'cap' design that could also be adapted for the front of the container. Not the most creative idea, but still - something in the direction of where it could go - an idea that could be built upon. Logo great!  Label - hate it. What is that - it looks like a turd.

Okay. It was just some image I found off the internet of a coconut, clearly we'd need to photograph something but you get the idea, right? No . . . I still hate it.

They can't all be winners and clearly there was nothing to build upon for the client so back to the drawing board. What would the flavors be - that might inspire me some.

Take two. So much of the stuff being presented to me was tropical sounding, so I decided to go with palm trees. Being a white boy from New England - if you said 'tropical' I think Palm Tree. Call me stupid, but I go there.
Okay - we're a little closer - this wasn't such a venomous response this time. Looks a little weird but we're getting there. Looking at it today - I think it's a lot weird and I still like the first one better, but perhaps I am desensitized to turds being a dog owner. So, back to the drawing board.
Now - this . . . this was solid. Not only was the design liked, we went through and designed every flavor. There were I think six flavors at this point - soon to be nine. While universally, everyone liked the designs, there was a new problem. There was a new rum on the market and they had a logo that was sort of the same. In researching it, I did find something that would put you to mind of it, but this was so different that it should not have been too big of a concern. No, no - let's scrap all this and go with something else. Let's start with a new logo.


At the time I was kind of fascinated with the periodical chart. Solid simple design. Efficient. So - I proposed I be allowed to just go a little coocoo for coco and present a completely different idea - no tropics involved - just the science.
I first presented the new logo idea and it was a passable design for the moment contingent on the whole look. I liked this new concept - it added the coconut as a subliminal in the O's and it felt contained and like a brand.
The concept was actually that the containers be completely white with this narrow little label on the front and a similar nutritional breakdown label for the back - possibly even smaller - we never got that far. This . . . now THIS was exciting. This is definitely what we are going to do. Went through the whole process of photographing everything for the business plan - bowls of icy goodness and the pints with labels.
Nearly everyone was on the same page - everyone was excited and then the little voice of doubt stepped in. Is this a chocolate product? Coco - most people think of cacao when they see coco. Maybe this isn't the best name for a company after all.

Back to the drawing board.

By this time this was actually being produced here in Atlanta at a known ice creamery. Won't get into the politics of this at all - I will never quite understand it, but that company said that they wanted their logo on it if they were going to serve it. Their logo was a train wreck that attempted to have the same sort of carefree nature of Ben and Jerry's - a stupid airplane that made no sense when it comes to frozen dessert. We're changing the name to NiceCream and it needs to use this truck full of ugly incorporated into the look.

I was frustrated and the client has a friend who does really big name designs (like a Kill Bill website et cetera - highly sought after) and he liked the name and started trying different typefaces and suggested a few but really expressed an interest in one particular typeface. He also added three dots above the 'I' in Nice - so see - even a big name wanted a subliminal towards the coconut - I am not a dunce after all.

Version 5 comes along. Back to a round label for the lid of a pint.
I decided the name needed movement to mimic the foolish banner the airplane was carrying and then a new slogan was added. I decided to create a lemniscate (the infinity symbol) to continue that motion. Not a great layout, but it was getting there - I was feeling a little refreshed.

Version six and seven was a play on this. I also softened the horrible airplane design by removing the black outline and making the outlines a deeper shade of the shape they were containing.
I added the enjoy forever myself - I thought why have a subliminal when you can just point it out - enjoy this product forever - it's better for you. So, with seven being the tightest of the designs we moved forward with that look in concept. There were so many upsets behind the scenes and each step needed to be approved for logo trade marking, name trade marking - the works. Each step needed these graphics for the approval process. So many steps were rushed just to get an idea into the appropriate offices. 

Jumping forward a bit - we were going to have a social to official introduce the product. Now a person involved in inviting the right people needed to be called in. We're sending out a postcard - I just need something by tomorrow - just make this text look good.
The text was the least of everyones problem. WTF? What is this? Powerpoint stock art? Ug! And, when someone says just throw something together it's deflating. I am not a copy editor - I don't write jingles - I make pretty things. So making this painfully dry text look interesting is not always the easiest thing, but magic can happen and I try to do my best. Something happens while I am working on it. I come up with a new way to present the logo - as though it's being dragged by the plane too. So in playing with the logo for the bowl photograph, the text just takes a back seat for version one
 The client loves the bowl idea. Now to work on the text.
So now the design has become completely different. The colors are easily acquired from the mandatory logo and THIS is eye catching. (as an aside, it was suggested that I could get work doing this sort of thing by the promoter who cringed when I she heard by hourly rate wasn't minimum wage). While I could barely afford the suggested donation, I even attended the event and people were gobsmacked at how good this stuff was and how fun.

Business cards are designed and while the cursive text was a major sticking point with the client as being 'too feminine' everyone loved it so it stuck. We also needed labels for the case and each needed some sort of slogan.
address/names blurred for this

So things were looking really up from here, until - there is another company with a similar name. Nice Creme out of somewhere on the west coast. I say - it's a completely different name. Not only is it two words, but the spelling is completely different. Nope - we have to change it. We're going with Bella Creme now (sounds like crem, not cream). Really. Great. Let's keep this feel though.  

There comes a point when you just don't feel something anymore. I tried to find a nice way of saying I'm done, but I also wanted to help - I was promised that for the ride, when this took off I would be rewarded - but I was kind of done at this point.

New logos. New Labels. I will quickly say too, Bella is the name of the clients dog, so I had an idea for a label, but I am not an illustrator by trade and I need to take time to get my drawings to a place where I want them. At the time of this I was very much influenced by japanese anime. Not that I watch a lot of it, but when someone is excited or sad, the animation style changes significantly to a very caricaturist style and eye highlights can become a little whacky looking. This has now become quite a popular style on shows like Adventure Time and Gumball on the Cartoon Network - so excuse the crappy drawing - we probably would have hired someone if this idea was a hit (instead of 'this is absolutely scary - I hate it).
little Bella just wants some Passion
Going for that farm stand look - another direction
trying to bring back the magic of the post card as instructed
Further downward spiral with the postcard ideals
Then playing with the logo a bit . . . .
Lord and Taylor anyone? Gah!
OH! This one looks promising!
I felt very strongly about the last one. I wasn't saying this was the best idea or the correct typeface, but my gut told me that a play on the B and the C would be the best design - it was just a matter of finding the correct typeface and this was sort of close, but not really. It severed the ideas from the past and moved forward in another direction for a fresh start. No - he couldn't see the scoops of ice cream or the bowl - no - go with the first one. The second one was hard to read and the third one I guess looked like a turd.

In regrouping, so much of this was starting to change - even the names of the flavors (notice it's now Dave's Chocolate).I just wasn't feeling this anymore and while I felt attached, I needed to be unattached from it. I asked that a new designer be brought in to carry out the rest of this project. I knew that by leaving it, I would be giving up my rights to any sort of end reward, but taking a project from its humble beginning and adding in so many upsets - it's hard to re-conceptualize that which has already been completed. 

Ironically, things really fell apart and a great idea simply never got off the ground with the company either. So many good ideas out there simply get steamrolled. As of now - you can find a coconut milk ice cream at Whole Foods that tastes a little bit like wall paper paste. Perhaps some day this product will have new interest, but until then, it seems frozen desserts will continue to try to be something they are not.

Back to design - and you can apply this to most of the things that end up being seen - there are so many steps to getting that final look correct that can often make one job seem like you've done so much work when everyone only gets to see the one printed item. It's kind of sad actually. 

Speaking of graphics, I am working on a slew of items for a new shop opening in Hapeville by my friends Jim and Carter. I'll probably mention more - grand opening is slated for Monday - after a series of (go figure) upsets that have pushed the date back from November to March to April. Fingers crossed - it's a beautiful shop and I think it will be wildly successful. 

As for sim stuff. I have a post that I have been editing together now for a month on the trials and tribulations of the Community Sign set. What an utter nightmare it's been. So much for my foray into the world programming.